It’s Almost Here!

Today I’m not only talking about Christmas as I declare “It’s almost here!” I’m also thinking of the end of 2020. Thinking of it as the “year that was” should feel good.

And with those thoughts, we can move ahead into 2021 with hope and anticipation of better days ahead.

This Christmas season will be different for many of us. Traditions set aside for safer gatherings. Perhaps one less in that family photo or at the table. Inability to visit and cheer those housed in nursing facilities or in the hospital. And likely many more. 
 
If we love as Christ taught us to love, we are willing to accept these inconveniences.
 

Looking ahead, we hope for the light at the end of this seemingly endless dark tunnel to lead to better times. The vaccine is here, injections are being given, and plans established for each of us to receive it. With gratitude in our hearts, a new year is beginning with the hope of healing and diminishing numbers of victims.

Live into that Light. The Light and Love that came down at Christmas of old is still with us. We need only to live it and share it with others. 

Image Attribution: Diane Wigstone

Featured Image Attribution: Angeles Balaguer from Pixabay

And to all who visit here, I wish you a Merry Christmas, whatever your language or spiritual tradition.

 

Acceptance

Monday afternoon I called a dear friend. Just a simple check-in to see how she and her husband are doing during these strange times. We haven’t seen each other since March, and we’ve had one other phone call since then.

After our first phone call, she began shopping at the same grocery store I do. I had shared how easy it was to do an online order, set a date for FREE pickup, and have your groceries brought out and loaded in your trunk. Monday she shared she had been copying my shopping routine.

We talked about the surprises you get sometimes. Those shopping for you may think they’re picking the perfect substitute for an out-of-stock item. Or the surprise of learning your item is out-of-stock and there is no substitute. Or getting an entirely wrong item despite carefully ordering the one you wanted. AND there are no returns during the pandemic.

A good laugh came out of this part of our visit, and I asked my friend how she was dealing with all these surprises. She said, “Sherrey, for the year 2020 I have decided to lean on the word ‘acceptance.'” I like the idea of leaning on acceptance. A variety of situations exist where this is easily applied. This pandemic year has brought many issues where acceptance would help.

For each individual, there is likely a long list of things quite different from mine or yours. But each of us misses something we believe is an ordinary part of our lives. There is nothing we can do about it. Perhaps we can accept it until the pandemic is over.

I’m not much of a phone conversationalist, but I was glad I telephoned my friend on Monday. We laughed a little, shared a lot about our children, and she enlightened me to the world of acceptance during these times.

Who have you reached out to lately? Anyone? Family or friend? What have you accepted recently?

acceptance, Eckhart Tolle, right now,
Image Attribution: Guilford College Counseling

Featured Image Attribution:  Rémi Walle on Unsplash

Hope Remains

Yes, hope remains. Despite fires and smoke, extremely hazardous air quality, several days of evacuation orders: hope remains.

All the above add stress to the already stressful pandemic. Yet, hope remains.

One bit of good news, the Portland protests and riots took a break during the smoke and poor air quality. One less level of stress. Hope remains.

As we sat in our home, we talked a lot about preparedness when threatened by a natural disaster. What one thing would you take? It’s hard to say. You might not have time to remember what that thing is and then pick it up and go. But we did start a list of what we’d need to take with us. Continue reading “Hope Remains”

May Goodness Define Us

Two Sundays ago, during our live-streamed worship service, many left comments and greetings. Among them were the words in today’s post title: May goodness define us. A member of our congregation wrote these words for all to read. His choice of words jumped off the computer screen at me. And I knew at that moment what I wanted to do with them.
 
I wrote them out on a small Post-it note and placed it near my computer. When I felt judgmental about someone’s words or actions toward others, I’d read these words. And I’d stop myself from throwing out a quick rebuttal with four words: May goodness define us. Friends, it is working. 
 
Today I share them here in the hope of others doing the same. How you ask? By spreading thought-provoking reflection throughout the land. Here’s a suggestion to begin.

Continue reading “May Goodness Define Us”

Feeling Out of Touch?

Are you feeling out of touch these days? Here in Oregon, our pandemic guidelines label sheltering as “stay at home” since March 23, 2020, “until further notice.” But there are states where residents are no longer sheltering in place, or in what some call lockdown. 
 
But there are some in our communities who live alone 365 days each year. Others live in retirement or assisted living communities and yet live alone. Still, others are, because of disease or illness, isolated from the rest of us.
 
So, let’s think about feeling out of touch. Even though my husband and I live in the same house, there are times we each feel out of touch because of the pandemic. We can hug each other. Or touch the other’s hand. Toss a smile across the room.
 
But we can’t gather with our church family on Sundays or at other times during the week. Yes, we can see them during Zoom meetings and on Facebook Live. But it’s not the same as being able to see them “real time,” or share a hug, or shake hands in greeting. Bob is also missing out on his musical groups and friends. None of his groups — two community bands and our church choir — are meeting.
 
For me, it’s not so difficult as I’ve had a feeling of being out of touch for a while. During my struggle to overcome chronic pain and then surgery, I often felt out of touch. That cut a great hole in my people time.
 
I had friends with whom I met for coffee or tea, and now our only contact is through phone calls or text messages. Oh, how I miss them and our in-person visits. 
 
Our governor held a press conference this morning laying out Phase I of reopening Oregon. Believe me, if what I heard is correct, it’s going to be quite a bit longer than any of us believed or hoped in the beginning. But it isn’t the end of the world as I see it.
 
What I see is in the bigger picture. It’s not about ourselves, but about those with whom we make contact. There is that one person without symptoms who is a carrier of the coronavirus. He/she can infect more than one person in a day. That could mean an uptick in the number of people who contract the virus. 
 
The lesson in the bigger picture is this. As Americans, most of us have achieved much. We are able to live a good life in a safe home located near good schools with a beautiful family. Others of us planned well and live in retirement comfortably. We have no problem buying what we want when we want it. And therein lies the problem. We’ve grown too secure, perhaps even complacent.
 
COVID-19 has settled among us to teach us that we must face a personal slow down. And the slow down isn’t related to contracting the virus. The slow down is and has been imposed on us by our federal, state, and local governments. Is it a punishment? No, it’s a safety measure to save lives. Maybe we can’t eat out, go to movies, plan vacations right now.
 
We need to be patient and life will return to a semblance of the normalcy we once knew. Patience is a hard lesson, and most of us don’t like to practice it.
 
Yet, if we want personal contact with others, patience is the prescription we need right now. As Mary Poppins sings:
 
A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down
The medicine go down-wown
The medicine go down
Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down
In a most delightful way
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Richard Sherman / Robert Sherman
A Spoonful of Sugar lyrics © Walt Disney Music Company
 
Think of that “spoonful of sugar” as your dose of patience daily. If you can take a few minutes, call someone you know who lives alone and brighten his/her day. Write a note or send a card to someone who is always shut-in due to illness. Think about the goodness you have to share with others. Think of others and not so much about yourself. 
 
Above all, hold out hope for the day you hear you can find your semblance of normalcy by getting in touch with others.
 
Quote, Leo Buscaglia, power of touch, smile
 

Featured image attribution: Pezibear from Pixabay 

Day by Day

Day by day things are changing in miniscule and massive ways it seems. Especially in this pandemic state we find ourselves living in.  It is like spring changing in small ways day by day. And then one morning the tree outside your window is a burst of color.
 
Blossoms unfurl their petals. Trees turn blossoms into fruit. Grass pushes through the earth to create a bright green lawn. Buds are everywhere. Future blossoms on camellias, rhododendrons, azaleas, hydrangeas, peonies, tulips, daffodils, and more.
 
Some of the day by day changes aren’t so lovely as these. Let’s pull out a random change—I pick grocery shopping! Right about now I hate grocery shopping. Since Bob and I fall into an “at risk” category, our state guidelines suggest we stay home. This means ordering online to pickup what we need at Fred Meyer, the local Kroger-owned store. The store seems to have its system well organized and operating efficiently. For me, it is the ordering part that’s driving me a nuts.
 
About the time I have the order ready, something else pops up that we need. I rush to the computer to add it to our list. That happens again, again, and again. Then it’s the hassle of finding an open delivery date and time. Sometimes it can take several days to get locked in. Then the day scheduled for pick up arrives. You receive a text message letting you know what they’ve substituted or didn’t have at all! But the pickup itself is always a pleasant experience otherwise.
 
How much longer do I have to do this? Will I ever grow accustomed to it? It all rests on the restrictions set by our state government as COVID-19 peaks and flattens. We understand the opening of Oregon and its businesses will go slowly based on many matrices.
 
I’ve adopted a day by day process, doing what I can in the hours I’m awake and on my feet. That includes personal matters relating to taxes, estate planning, retirement funds, and more. The “more” includes household chores and cooking rather than writing and social media. AND continuing PT exercises at home.
 
I had wanted to restart my newsletter at the end of March, but didn’t quite focus on it enough to make it happen. For me, there’s a sense of being out of mind and body some days.
 
Coping with a change in the world around us is never easy. We are not always comfortable with change, especially sudden change. Even though life will return to the way it was, or almost, it is hard to accept the now as what some call the “new normal.” This isn’t the normal I want for my life. 
 
Yet penetrating through these days is a light. If we cling to that light, a special Light, we will find our way back to some semblance of what we used to call normal. Life may or may not go back to exactly what it was. My hope is that we’ll be something better than we were before. It’s possible. 
 
Spring flowers can be constant in coloring for two or three years. The next spring they may evolve into a different color. Isn’t it possible to hope we can change for the better?
 
Lam. 3:21-23, Scripture, hope
 
 
Featured image attribution: Phyllis Nagels on Unsplash